Here we have a theme of a broken pane of glass. The first is a shattered glass pane of a window in a building. When I first looked at it, I barely thought of it as anything other than a broken pane of window probably caused by an act of vandalism. After all, it is in an area where one would expect to see such acts of violence. However, I couldn’t help thinking about it, so, camera in hand, went back and ‘snapped’ it. This is because I remembered seeing this painting (see below) by René Magritte entitled “The Key to the Fields” (1933) Claude Spaak Collection, Paris. This is a painting (which is considered art) depicting a broken window, glass falling inwards, suggesting a ball or something came through the window, shattering the glass and landing inside. What a pane!
Now suddenly I have discovered that it appears that René François Ghislain Magritte died 46 years ago on 15th August, 1967. (Quite shattering). Magritte, was a Belgian surrealist artist born in Lessines, on 21 November, 1898. Like some artists, he came from a troubled background. By the time he was 14, his mother committed suicide by drowning herself in the River Sambre. Many critics and followers surmise that, he was present after her death and that when his mother’s body was found, her dress was covering her face; an image that has been suggested as the source of several of his paintings in 1927–1928 of people with cloth obscuring their faces.
From 1916-1918, Magritte studied at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, under Constant Montald, after previously dabbling in Impressionistic styles. From 1918–1924 he was influenced by Futurism (an offshoot of Cubism). To earn a living Magritte served in the Belgian infantry; worked as a draughtsman in a wallpaper factory; and was a poster and advertisement designer until 1926, when a contract with Galerie le Centaure in Brussels made it possible for him to paint full-time. He temporarilly relocated to Paris, but his success was not forthcoming, so he returned to Brussels in 1930 resuming work once more in advertising. After some time, he moved to London and stayed with his British surrealist patron Edward James who allowed him to stay rent free in his home and paint.
Alarmingly, over a period of two years from 1947–1948, Magritte, his brother and fellow Surrealist artist Marcel Mariën, supported themselves by reproducing fake Picasso’s, Braque’s and Chirico’s — a fraudulent repertoire he was later to expand into the printing of forged banknotes during the lean postwar period. His recognition has come late. A Magritte Museum opened to the public on 30 May 2009 in Brussels. It is housed in the five-level neo-classical Hotel Altenloh, on the Place Royale, where it displays some 200 original Magritte paintings, drawings and sculptures.
From the “Did you know…” files, apparently:
- Jackson Browne’s album “Late for the Sky”, (1974) artwork was inspired by Magritte’s “The Empire of Light”.
- Tom Stoppard wrote a Surrelaist play entitled “After Magritte”.
- Paul Simon’s song “Rene and Georgette Magritte with Their Dog after the War“, was inspired by a photograph of Magritte by Lothar Wolleh, which appears on the 1983 album “Hearts and Bones“.
- In the 1992 movie, “Toys”, Magritte’s work was influential in the entire movie, but specifically in a break-in scene, featuring Robin Williams and Joan Cusack in a music video hoax.
Finally may I just say…”Mais oui, magnifique Magritte“.